Two engravings, purportedly of Katherine Parr
There are two engravings in the Royal Collection, purportedly of Katherine Parr:
A sketch of Mary 'Rose' Tudor, Henry VIII's sister, during her brief period as Queen of France.
Mary Tudor (18th of March 1496 – 25th of June 1533), Queen of France by Johannes Corvus
Wedding portrait of Mary Tudor, Dowager Queen of France, and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, ca. 1516, unknown artist. They wed secretly in 1515, a mere six weeks after her first husband's death. Some argue that this is a posthumous portrait of Mary, that it was commisioned after her death.
Katherine Parr by Henry Thomas Ryall, after Hans Holbein the Younger. Stipple engraving, early 19th century. NPG D24189
Katherine Parr by William Camden Edwards, after Hans Holbein the Younger. Coloured.
An unidentified woman, c. 1526 – c. 1528. Sketch by Holbein. Royal Collection Trust. Inventory no. 912273. RCIN 912273.
The authenticated sketch of Mary during her brief period as queen of France side by side with the sketch of an unknown woman by Holbein
Mary was known for her beauty and the Venetian ambassador described her as “a Paradise – tall, slender, grey-eyed, possessing an extreme pallor".
So we see that the only distinguishing feature visible on the sketch of an unknown woman by Holbein, the grey eyes, matches the known information about Mary Tudor, Queen of France, Henry VIII's sister.
As Henry VIII's sister she would of course also have been a prime objective to paint for Holbein. In fact, it would almost have been strange if no portraits were commissioned of her, either by her brother, or by herself.
Approximately ten years would have passed between the sketches, accounting for the slight plumpness in Holbein's sketch which is also present in the portrait of Mary by Johannes Corvus. The years between ca. 1515 when the first sketch was drawn and ca. 1526-8 when Holbein's sketch was drawn are also the years in which Mary bore all of her four children.
In the engraving we see that the woman there has the same heart-shaped coif where it encircles the forehead that allows for some of the hair to show.
But the woman in the engraving's headpiece is more elaborate, with a veil pinned onto the heart-shaped hood.
Making it curiously more appropriate for a Queen of France, a King's sister and a Duke's wife in the time of elaborate headpieces.
The authenticated sketch of Mary during her brief period as queen of France side by side with the purported coloured engraving of Katherine Parr
The sketch of an unknown woman by Holbein side by side with the purported coloured engraving of Katherine Parr
"This portrait depicts Anne Stafford, a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon, first wife of King Henry VIII of England. Anne is shown as properly devout, holding a rosary in her lap. Her lavish attire is similar to other members of Henry’s court with like social standing. Anne’s delicate linen headscarf, secured by straight pins, her stiff bodice, and pleated sleeves with fur coverings, reflect the fashion of both Bruges (in present-day Belgium) and London, England, in the early 16th century. A companion portrait of Anne’s husband, George Hastings (first Earl of Huntingdon), also painted by Ambrosius Benson is in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium." Saint Louis Art Museum
Anne Stafford, daughter of Katherine Woodville, niece of Queen Elizabeth Woodville and mistress of Henry VIII
Anne Stafford, Countess of Huntingdon (c. 1483–1544) was the daughter of Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, and Lady Katherine Woodville. She was the wife of Sir Walter Herbert, and George Hastings, 1st Earl of Huntingdon, and mistress of Henry VIII.
Anne Stafford had two brothers, Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, and Henry Stafford, 1st Earl of Wiltshire; and a sister, Elizabeth Stafford, Countess of Sussex.
As the daughter of a duke, sister of one duke and one earl, wife of an earl, the mistress of Henry VIII and as a first cousin once removed to both him and his sister Mary, she was, if not of the same rank, than of at least sufficiently high enough rank to be comparable to Mary, at least in terms of fashionable headwear.
In short, could Anne Stafford wear a linen cap with a veil pinned to it, so too could Mary Tudor.
Portrait study of Margaret Giggs
"Black and coloured chalks on paper, 38.5 × 27.3 cm, Royal Collection, Windsor. Margaret Giggs (1508–70) was the foster daughter of Sir Thomas More. This drawing is one of seven fine surviving studies drawn by Holbein for his group portrait study of Thomas More's family. In the family portrait study, Margaret is leaning towards Thomas More's father, Sir John More, as if showing him a passage in a book, and she wears a different headdress. In a copy of Holbein's lost painting by Rowland Lockey, however, she wears the same cap as in the present drawing. Margaret Giggs attended Thomas More's execution in 1535. She married her tutor, the physician John Clement, by whom she had 5 children. She died in exile in Belgium. The inscription "Mother Iack", added later, is demonstrably false (Susan Foister, Holbein in England, London: Tate, 2006, ISBN 1854376454, p. 38; K. T. Parker, The Drawings of Hans Holbein in the Collection of His Majesty the King at Windsor Castle, London: Phaidon, 1945, p. 37)." Margaret Giggs, by Hans Holbein the Younger – Wikipedia
Now, I actually do believe that the aforementioned sketch by Holbein does portray Katherine Willoughby.
But would I have been willing to guarantee it? No.
Would I have been willing to guarantee that the sketch is in fact not of Mary Tudor, Queen of France, the third wife of Charles Brandon, rather than Katherine Willoughby, his fourth wife? No.
This proves that even though we here have two images purportedly of the same woman, both by Holbein, the resemblance is still not so great that we without any doubt can conclude that they are the same woman.
But that is an anomaly, right?
After all, ten years separates the sketch from the miniature. Fashion had changed. Katherine Willoughby had borne two children. She might have been pregant in the sketch.
But that is the only instance, right?
And Katherine Willoughby would have at different stages in her life, she would have been older, fashions would have changed, she might have been pregnant in the sketch.
But if Holbein drew two portraits of the same woman at precisely the same point in time, then it would be indubitably clear that this was the same woman, right? Right?
Let us be honest.
If they had not been wearing the exact same costume, how many of us would have assumed this to be the same woman?